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Cracked Wheel Caused Circus Train Wreck

February 15, 1995

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A cracked wheel caused last year’s derailment of a circus train in Florida that killed two people, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded.

The board ruled Tuesday that the probable cause of the Jan. 14, 1994, accident at Lakeland was the failure of a wheel that had cracked because of overheating and metal fatigue.

Witnesses reported pieces of the wheel falling off just before the 9:05 a.m. accident, the board said. Sixteen cars derailed, resulting in two deaths and five injuries of workers for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

The wheel was damaged at the time the train left Tampa, the board found. But it said the damage could not be detected by a routine inspection.

The board noted that the death of one circus performer might have been avoided if large interior equipment in one car had been secured.

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